Winter Riding

When I bought my motorbike in September, I thought I’d be able to ride it until maybe mid-October before winter set in and I would be confined to riding in circles around my underground parking lot.  How wrong I was.  I’ve been able to ride uninterrupted right through the “winter”.  Even now, in January, I’ve been riding almost every day.  Last night the temperature went down to minus 7 degrees (one of the coldest nights of the year so far).  It was a perfect opportunity to try out my new heated Gerbing’s vest that I had just purchased online http://www.gerbing.com/heat/vest.html.  To use the vest, I had to attach the Gerbing’s battery harness to my bike’s battery, which involved removing the bolts that attach the negative and positive terminals in place.  

I learned the hard way to be ready to catch the bolt when it comes free, lest it fall down into the bowels of the motorbike never to be seen again.  Even after removing almost every fairing, it was nowhere to be found.  I had to go to Canadian Tire to find a new one.  There were no exact matches, so I decided to go with something that seemed close enough.  It was a little longer and required a wrench instead of a screwdriver to install, but luckily it did the trick.

Then I realized that Gerbing’s sells the temperature controllers (US$69) and on/off switches seperately.  They warn not to use their heated clothing without such a device or “burns” could result.  Bollox I thought.  So I plugged my vest directly into the battery harness, and took Helen out for a winter ride.  The warmth of the vest was amazing.  I wore only a turtleneck underneath it and my leather biker jacket on top.  My torso was warm even at speeds of 80 km/h (and no “burning” took place).

I wanted to try the vest out at freeway speed, but unfortunately I had to cut my ride short.  My boys were complaining of the cold (hopefully thermal underwear would be enough to solve that problem).  But the biggest problem was my hands.  My fingers especially were beginning to cry out from pain.  I had to stop at a gas station just to warm up my hands.  I don’t think that new and supposedly warmer gloves are the answer (the gloves, they do nothing!).  Rather, I think electric gloves are where it’s at.  Too bad they go for US$139.  But the electric vest worked such a miracle on my torso that I have high hopes for electric gloves.  Besides, you can easily pay $100 for a pair of regular, unheated, riding gloves.

Not only will this gear serve me well living in Toronto, but it will come in handy when I go to Argentina in June.  June and July are the coldest months in the southern hemisphere.  I hope to go to Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego, which are at 50-55 degrees south of the equator.  That is equivalent to Edmonton, Alberta, where the current temperature is minus 24 degrees Celcius.  Luckily it doesn’t get that cold in Southern Argentina because of the moderating effects of the ocean, but it has been known to snow there every month of the year, so snow in winter is almost a sure bet.  I expect temperatures in the range of minus 10 degrees Celcius and the possibility of blizzard conditions.  Hopefully the heated gear will be up to the task.

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